Companies are far away from fulfilling the UN principles for business and human rights. New studies show this.
The human rights due diligence is still far away from a matter of course for companies. Studies on German , Finnish and Irish companies confirm this fact. The same applies to the latest edition of the “Corporate Human Rights Benchmark” report on companies from all other the world, published just before the end of 2019. The new benchmark report, analysing 200 instead of just 100 internationally active companies working in food, textiles, minerals and new information and communication technology industries regarding their handling of human rights, does indeed show some progress. Adidas, Unilever and the Mark & Spencer Group receive the best grades with more than 70 out of a maximum of 100 points. But a quarter of the surveyed companies don't even reach ten points.
Swiss groups mediocre at best
Among the 200 surveyed companies, 5 companies - Nestlé, Glencore, LafargeHolcim, Lindt & Sprüngli and TE Connectivity - are headquartered in Switzerland. The best rating is that of 55,2 points reached by Nestlé. Nestlé is followed by Glencore with 46,1 points. This means that the commodity group is still above the average of all companies. The other three do significantly worse. The cement multinational company LafargeHolcim achieved 24,5, the chocolate producer Lindt & Sprüngli just 5,9 and TE Connectivity, a provider of connectivity and sensors having its financial headquarters in Schaffhausen, even only 4,8 points.
The "benchmark" report shows that all Swiss companies have the greatest need to act on the issue of reparations for human rights violations. However, this result is not surprising, since the corporations are strongly resisting against catchy liability provisions in the debate about their human rights responsibilities. All five companies achieve less than half of the possible number of points. In the crucial parliamentary debate tomorrow wednesday on the Responsible Business Initiative, it will be shown again that the greatest contradictions lies in here.
The companies' modest human rights certificates encourage the requests for binding rules. In the EU, even companies seem to be increasingly in favour. This is shown by a study recently published by the EU Commission . A uniform standard in the EU on business and human rights would increase legal security. Most industrial associations still oppose to it. However, the EU Commission seems to want to draw up a regulation on corporate due diligence. It remains to be seen whether Switzerland is willing to keep up with it.